Prove It On Me
Stony Plain 2020
Review by David Bowling
Rory Block is one of the best, and possibly the premier, blues woman working today. In a career that has spanned close to a half-century and 36 albums, she has modernized traditional blues and made it accessible to two generations of fans.
Several years ago, she completed her six album Mentor Series, in which she recorded songs by early bluesmen, whom she met as a young musician, and who influenced her career. Two years ago, she began her Women Of Blues series with an album of Bessie Smith covers.
Prove It On Me is the second release in her new series. Rather than focus on just one musician, she modernizes songs by a number of women, both well-known and somewhat obscure.
He ability to update a traditional blues song are on full display with Ma Rainey’s “Prove It On Me” and Memphis Minnie’s “In My Girlish Days.” Both maintain their original gritty nature, while benefitting from a smoothness and guitar lines that were not available eight decades ago.
Helen Hume’s’ “He May Be Your Man” is a classic blues song of loss, while Madlyn Davis’ “It’s Red Hot” is an entertaining sexual romp. Arizona Dranes was a blind gospel singer and her “I Shall Wear A Crown” probably undergoes the greatest make-over as it moves into a blues groove that enhance the song’s meaning.
Through it all, her voice, which is a superb blues instrument and her guitar work form the foundation of her music. Like many of world’s best guitarists, she has a unique style that is her signature and recognizable. The notes flow from one to the other but also have an individual clarity. She also is an adept slide guitarist and harp player.
Prove It On Me continues Block’s string of bringing blues music of the past into the 21st century. It is another exceptional effort that shows her passion for her craft and its history and as she presents the blues in a modern form.